Anyone who has been in the military – or gone on vacation for that matter – knows how tough it is to stick a pet in a kennel (“doggie prison” in animal language). Luckily for me, a friend stepped up and said he and his wife would take care of our dog while we were on travel.
Elway is a mutt. At our house, he spends most of his time following me around like a shadow. He adores me and is incredibly loyal.
My buddy (also a Navy veteran) took him in and assured us he would handle our precious dog with kid gloves. “Don’t worry,” he said. I felt bad because I knew Elway would miss me. He would be inconsolable. He wouldn’t sleep and wouldn’t eat until his master returned. But he would be cared for by a good man.
A man I trusted.
Once we got out of town I started receiving disturbing images on my cell phone. (Caution: graphic content.) Here is one:
“He looks sad,” I thought. He also looked comfortable, but I knew better.
Then I got this:
Sure, my friend has a beautiful back yard and I’m glad the dog got to enjoy it. But Elway looked like he was starting to actually enjoy being there. This bothered me.
Then I got reports of excursions to the countryside, playing catch in the park, and long walks.
Just the two of them.
One day, I got this note: “Elway has been invited to a B-day party tomorrow and wants to know if it’s OK to go. There will be (women dogs) there.”
I thought it was a joke. But he was actually invited to a doggie birthday party, complete with meat cake and candles. He played with the other party-hopping canines and ate doggie treats like a drunken Sailor.
I felt betrayed.
The after-party hangover picture didn’t help:
Worried I was losing my dog, we rushed home. I texted my buddy that we were on our way.
He wrote back, “He doesn’t want to go.”
When I picked him up, I noticed Elway had put on some weight. He had also been freshly groomed, which made me suspicious. I had to coax him into my car. All I got was an obligatory – albeit reluctant – wag of the tail. I can’t swear to it, but I think I caught him looking longingly over his shoulder as we drove away.
I have my dog back, but he is different. He has an attitude now. I find him staring at me with what? Annoyance? Disappointment? He doesn’t follow me around any more. He looks at the food I give him and I can almost hear him think, “This is IT?”
One of these days I’ll mention my buddy’s name and watch for Elway’s reaction. If I get an involuntary eye dilation or tail wag, I’ll know that I have lost him forever.
For now I’ll do what I can to win him back.
Starting with a meat cake.